Plane Travel Tips With Kids
Are you traveling soon with your children either for spring break or planning a summer vacation? Often times close quarters on airplanes and squirmy children, don't go hand in hand. Here are some helpful tips for traveling with babies, toddlers and older children through the airport and on the plane:
Stroller: If your child is on the verge of giving up the stroller, I recommend taking it for air travel. We have a double stroller with one child out of it most of the time, but we like to bring it in the airport. Strollers are great for storing extra bags, keeping little kids from getting lost in the crowd and some airlines will even let you board first if you have a stroller.
Kid IDs: Even though you don't need IDs for kids, I like to carry the kids passports with me even for domestic flights. Airports can be big and kids can get lost easily. If you have a photo ID for your child, I would recommend having it on hand just in case.
Curbside Check-In If Outnumbered: If you are traveling alone with little kids, it's sometimes easier to just check your bags curbside when you are dropped off. The baggage people can help you get from the curb to the stand and then you have less to get inside the airport.
Family Lanes: Some airports are clearly marked as to which lane to use for security with little kids. At O'Hare, we were in the normal security lane and another parent told us there was a separate area we could go through since we had a stroller. If there is not a clear family lane, make sure you ask. This will save you a lot of time and hassle getting through security.
Pre-Prepare For Security: As you know with kids, you soon loose focus and it can become difficult to get everything loaded on the conveyor to go through security. If you can prepare either in line or before you get in line, this will help the process go faster: fold strollers, repack bags and organize the kids to go through the metal detectors. Please note that children under 12, no longer need to remove shoes, light jackets or head wear. For further details, visit the TSA site.
Rules on Breast Milk, Formula and Juice: These are all permitted to go through security, but TSA just recommends letting the screening officers know you have these before they are screened if they are in excess of 3.4 oz.
People Screening: If you are pregnant and you are not showing yet, make sure you tell the officer that you can not go through the x-ray machine. The person on duty can hand-screen you. For smaller infants, officers will usually let you carry kids through in your arms, but will make you run any strollers or baby carriers through the conveyor. For toddlers, if they are clingy like mine, I recommend going through the metal detector first and then they can follow right after.
Gate Check: Once you are at your gate, make sure you get the tags for any strollers that will be stored in the plane. This will save you a step once you board the plane. I've been asked this by other parents so if this is your first time checking a stroller, just before you are about to step into the plane fold up your stroller and place it off to the right side next to the door. Someone will come and collect your stroller to be stored during flight. Once you land, wait in this same area off to the side and they will bring it back to you.
While You Wait: If your plane is not taking off for awhile, make sure little kids use the bathroom one last time, load up on extra water bottles and change any diapers. This is all a lot easier than on the plane. Plus, if you have a thirsty child, the sometimes one drink service during flight, won't suffice.
Take Off and Landing: The cabin pressure always sends kids into meltdown mode since it hurts when their ears are popping. For babies, try a pacifier or a bottle during this time. For toddlers, try a snack and for older children chewing gum or just have them swallow so their ears won't bother them.
Pack A Change of Clothes: Even if you no longer have a baby, your child may get sick on the flight or spill something on their lap. Packing extra clothes including a light jacket they can either use for a pillow or if they are cold on the plane, is a good idea. Plus, if you are changing climates after leaving the airport, it's easy to adjust.
Activities For The Flight: Try packing each child a backpack with snack, one comfort item and a few projects to keep them busy. Good ideas are: an Ipad with earplugs, books without noise, coloring and sticker books. You don't need to buy a bunch of new items, but if your children get any of these from birthday parties or holidays, put these aside in an area in your home where they forget about them and bring them out for a plane trip. Toys or activities they haven't seen, will become a welcome distraction on a long trip.
If your a frequent flier with your family, please let me know any tips or suggestions you may have. Please leave your comments below.